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The War on the West

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China has concentration camps now. Why do Westerners claim our sins are unique?

It is now in vogue to celebrate non-Western cultures and disparage Western ones. Some of this is a much-needed reckoning, but much of it fatally undermines the very things that created the greatest, most humane civilization in the world.

In The War on the West, Douglas Murray shows how many well-meaning people have been fooled by hypocritical and inconsistent anti-West rhetoric. After all, if we must discard the ideas of Kant, Hume, and Mill for their opinions on race, shouldn't we discard Marx, whose work is peppered with racial slurs and anti-Semitism? Embers of racism remain to be stamped out in America, but what about the raging racist inferno in the Middle East and Asia?

It's not just dishonest scholars who benefit from this intellectual fraud but hostile nations and human rights abusers hoping to distract from their own ongoing villainy. Dictators who slaughter their own people are happy to jump on the "America is a racist country" bandwagon and mimic the language of antiracism and "pro-justice" movements as PR while making authoritarian conquests.

If the West is to survive, it must be defended. The War on the West is not only an incisive takedown of foolish anti-Western arguments but also a rigorous new apologetic for civilization itself.

308 pages, Hardcover

First published April 26, 2022

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About the author

Douglas Murray

29 books1,870 followers
Douglas Kear Murray is a British neoconservative writer and commentator. He was the director of the Centre for Social Cohesion from 2007 until 2011, and is currently an associate director of the Henry Jackson Society.

Murray appears regularly in the British broadcast media, commentating on issues from a conservative standpoint, and he is often critical of Islamic fundamentalism. He writes for a number of publications, including Standpoint, the Wall Street Journal and The Spectator.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 511 reviews
Profile Image for Linda Galella.
464 reviews51 followers
June 28, 2022
Completely aggravated, bordering on angry, it took a long time, (for me), to read this book. I had to stop reading, go walk it off and come back to it numerous times.

Douglas Murray breaks down “The War on the West” by showing how the basic tenents of America’s foundation have been eroded. He looks at race, reparations, crt, religion, history, education, China, art, music, health care and more. Not only are these subjects spoken about but Murray gives specific examples that demonstrate his claims. There’s an interactive notes section in the Kindle edition that makes this an easy function to follow up on.

By the way, speaking of the Kindle edition, Amazon has this book categorized incorrectly. It has nothing to do with LGBT studies or History of Women. It is a Political and Social Science book. Sigh…PLEASE don’t let that “error” stop you from reading this important book!!!

The depth of absurdity that has and is occurring on a daily basis to diminish our democracy, values, historical accuracy and position as the greatest nation on earth is frightening. It’s permeated our education system, churches, journalism; it’s everywhere.

I’m a musician, educated in the 60-70’s. I was taught theory, western civilization, learned to play EVERY orchestra instrument, and already could read musical notation prior to auditions a plenty. That notation has apparently become racist and is causing stress for students of color. There are prestigious universities considering eliminating the end of required notation reading, conducting, studying classical composers, (they’re all white) and of course, their music, due to this stress. WHAT ?!?!? That will not be a fine arts degree in music; appreciation, perhaps. Add this to all the art and sculpture that’s being canceled; yes, angry. History isn’t meant to be canceled but to be learned from lest we repeat the horrors.

That’s one small example that spoke loudly to me. There are too many more to even summarize beyond what’s above. This is a book that should have people talking. It’s no nonsense, well supported and in my case, really hit a raw nerve but totally worth reading📚
Profile Image for Roxanne.
52 reviews8 followers
May 2, 2022
This book stirred a lot in me.

As white woman married to a brown man, living in South Africa, and who has a bi-racial child… I have been fiercely on the side of the “anti-racism” movement from the beginning. However, over the last 2 years as race discussions online began to turn more and more malevolent, I began to question the wisdom of fighting racism by hyper focusing on racial identity, policing these discussions and who may participate, and what qualifies them to do so. Also I couldn’t reconcile the fact that I would wear the label of being inherently racist no matter what I did simply by virtue of being white.

The mantle of shame and self loathing I have worn purely on the basis of having white skin has become heavy. The scars of apartheid are still fresh and I cannot and will never defend the atrocities that took place, but as Wiesenthal says (and I paraphrase here), quoted by Murray in the book, I also cannot take responsibility for something that I didn’t do. We cannot issue or accept apologies on behalf of the people who were wronged.

I don’t want to pass these negative attitudes about whiteness to my son. None of us should feel shame or discrimination on the basis of skin colour which we are unable to choose.

I felt like reading this book, I could lay down this heavy load I have been carrying. I finally feel like I don’t need to feel guilty for being white. I will continue to support diversity, I will continue to condemn racism in all its forms and I will continue to appreciate the contributions of and uplift people from all backgrounds, cultures and ethnicities. Especially in a country as beautiful and diverse as mine.

I also felt like Murray draws attention to how one sided the criticism is for the west, when many eastern and Asian countries have done or doing similar things. China’s expansion and recolonization of Africa in particular is incredibly concerning yet is seemingly unnoticed while the west is focused on social justice issues and searching for every person who should be canceled and what can now be considered a micro aggression.

Murray does a really good job in taking on a difficult topic and questioning and exposing flawed logic of the “anti-racist” movement. This book is not an easy read because it tackles many uncomfortable truths and many people are likely to dislike him for that.

I also appreciated this book’s tone and how he points to the future, what can be done and that it is not too late to minimize the potential consequences of this war on the west. It had an overall more hopeful tone than his previous book. It gave me plenty to think about and I will likely revisit this read again at a later date.

This book will challenge you. I highly recommend it.
4 reviews3 followers
April 30, 2022
A masterpiece and tour de force

Mr. Murray, I may not agree with everything about your politics but I am proud as an American that you had the courage to write this book. It is a clarion call for all of us to reject this noxious divisiveness that is happening around race.

Thank you and enjoy this 5 star review for a wonderful and insightful book. It was worth the weight and a valuable contribution to the discussion.
24 reviews2 followers
May 16, 2022
I have some problems with this book. The book is hyperbolic with the introduction in particular laced with catastrophising, the book weaves together lurid anecdotes and states this a widespread problem but he rarely shows that they are in fact representative, often he ascribes motivations/attitudes without saying who exactly he is talking about and the books factual accuracy is suspect.

Not all is bad however, there are stronger sections within the text. In some respects this is the right-wing version of Peter Mitchell's Imperial Nostalgia, where Mitchell examined nostalgia, Murray picks up on Scruton's idea of a culture of repudiation. Both discuss Nigel Biggar from different angles, both discuss the national trust, both discuss statue toppling and are culture war tracts that overstate the importance of their subject.

His last book made an infamous error about search engines and racism yet Douglas Murray does himself no favours in his new book by relying on dubious sources without doublechecking them.
He cites Christopher Rufo repeatedly however Rufo is not great at journalism.

Case in point- Douglas falsely assets that an ethnic studies program calls for an 'counter genocide' against Christians. Had he checked he would have discovered the term 'counter genocide' was never used in the proposed curriculum at all. The term was used by the author in a different context and was being used to mean opposition to genocide.

Douglas claims that workers at Sandia National Laboratories were forced to write letters of apology to imagined women. No apology was required rather they were asked to write about the meaning of the voluntary event to them. Their evaluations were hardly negative. Additionally he claims the employees were told white make culture = KKK/ white supremacism; these associations were actually created by the employees themselves and were alongside mundane words like golf, successful, baseball, founding fathers etc. These mistakes make me seriously wonder about how accurately described the rest of the book is.

Douglas says that Arizona DoE declared in a toolkit babies can be racist by the age of 3 months. One quote from it is 'At 3 months, babies look more at faces that match the race of their caregivers'.(Kelly et al. 2005) Not as lurid is it?
It is worth noting that the quotes he mentions from the toolkit cited published research and it would have been more interesting if Murray had critically examined the research itself. Some of this research has some clear limitations (sample size/IAT) which the toolkit did not discuss critically and would have been a better example than the very short presentation.

Douglas claims John McDonnell praised Mao while in the HoC. But that incident was a joke used to attack the governments policy of selling assets to China. It obviously backfired but he was not praising or defending Mao unlike the shadow home secretary who really did defend Mao in a cringe inducing conversation.

On more disputed territory Douglas seems a touch unaware. He thinks racism is on life support in the US which to me is extremely naïve.

He says that china is currently in an opioid war on America which strikes me as being a big claim which he fails to substantiate.
He discusses how young people don't know any holocaust history yet research that looked at adults from a range of ages like Pew has shown that older US adults do not do much better only scoring slightly better on holocaust knowledge.

He says that 'few people wished to defend the maintenance of confederate statues' after the George Floyd protests erupted, yet many did defend the statues including the President of the USA.

Some other annoyances include:
I felt he sidestepped the history of native American-settler relations, yes there was unintended disease spread but there were many massacres to consider as well and he sidesteps tougher questions around Churchill and racism. I also find his moral approach to history of weighing good and bad unconvincing.

Double standards on false accusations. Murray has criticised those who have simply believed hate crime or sexual accusations. Murray has been critical of the credulous figures who accepted Carl Beeches claims or the false accusations against Bishop Bell. In this book on Jessie Smollett he writes: "But what is far more interesting is the eagerness with which his story was believed".
Yet he runs with the incendiary accusations levelled against Foucault being a sexual predator who paid children to meet him in the dead of the night in Tunisia. He writes "The usual place turned out to be the local cemetery, where Foucault would rape the children on the gravestones." This claim was made by Guy Sorman, however Sorman provided no evidence, yet Murray accepts it uncritically and runs with it. It is of course possible Guy Sorman is correct and the victims have been lost to time or do not wish to come forward, we should not discount that but using his own standards Murray has acted like those he criticises. He could have at least caveated this section to avoid the glaring double standards.

While he says criticism of the west is welcome I am sceptical. Towards the end, he bemoans how the culture has been hollowed out by religious and cultural traditions being challenged and throughout complains about being unable to enjoy the endowments of west without the endowments being criticised. The declinist attitude struck me as odd as conservatives like Murray simultaneously venerate the wests freedom and openness to critique yet seem to believe it is extremely vulnerable to being deconstructed or critically examined. To this end he fantasises about what his honest answer is to the question what is good about being white. His answer is an astonishing several pages long monologue that encapsulates the source of Murray's angst. He wants validation of the west, he wants its traditions, its history, its accomplishments to be unapologetically praised.

At times Murray is aware of the counterargument that this 'war' is overblown and asserts this not just standard culture war fare but an existential problem yet regularly he cites just a few or even a singular example as evidence or worse just rants about what 'they' think without any attribution.

I liked the use of humour in the book, It helps lighten the tone of an otherwise very negative book. The sections on cultural appropriation seemed correct to me, I dislike the movements trying to create ultra rigid barriers around cultures and insistences of cultural purity. He has cogent points here about the inconsistencies in its advocates. I liked the use of polling data on Americans and racial tensions surrounding the police and more generally. I liked several of his refutations, particularly surrounding Nicholas Ferrar and anti-Cecil Rhodes activists.

The distillation of his implicit beliefs around equality in the chapter 'gratitude' is interesting. His critique of Kendi's circular definition of racism seems correct to me and its application invites policy confusion.

It could be interesting if he wrote a book setting out his what he believes rather than a critique.
Profile Image for Claudia.
954 reviews534 followers
May 16, 2022
There are many attitudes that we take in our lives, some of which dominate at one point in our lives and recede in another. But a life lived without gratitude is not a life properly lived. It is a life that is lived off-kilter: one in which, incapable of realizing what you have to be thankful for, you are left with nothing but your resentments and can be contented by nothing but revenge.

As far as I'm concerned, racial identity should not be an issue. Nobody should be judged by the colour of their skin, but solely on their individuality. But even this dream of Martin Luther King is considered racist nowadays by some.

Reading should be a pleasure, but the content in the book made me angry. And even angrier that such a book had to be written. Musical notation is considered to be changed because it's of Western legacy and upsets some people of color? Tate mural should disappear because it is racist? Kew Gardens should "decolonize"? Aristotle is considered "the granddaddy of all racial theorists?! And Shakespeare's works are "race plays" and contain "racialized dynamics"? And these are only mild examples. I do hope that these are just extremist opinions and they do not become the norm.

I will leave some (rather long) quotes, to be considered. My only question to this kind of statements is this: who benefits from it? Because I don't think people do, no matter what colour they are.

The hallmarks were there from the beginning. An absolute obsession with race as the primary means to understand the world and all injustice. The claim is that white people are in their totality guilty of prejudice, specifically racism, from birth. That racism is interwoven so deeply into white-majority societies that the white people in those societies do not even realize that they live in racist societies. Asking for proof was proof of racism. And, finally, there is also the insistence that none of the answers Western societies have come up with to address racism are remotely adequate or capable of dealing with the task at hand. The work of Eduardo Bonilla-Silva and others insisted that even the concept of aspiring to be "color-blind" when it comes to issues of race is itself deeply racist. To say "all Chinese people think this" or "all black people behave like that" had been thought to be rude as well as ignorant. But Robin DiAngelo positively reveled in the naughtiness of doing it and getting away with doing it because she was doing it against white people.

But what is the imperative to indoctrinate children in this way? One explanation is again that Americans in prominent positions have suggested that even American babies need reprogramming from the racist society they have been born into. As no less an authority than the Arizona Department of Education recently declared, babies are able to become racist by age of three months old. And, according to the "equity toolkit" published by the department, which made this claim, it is white babies that are the problem. The toolkit claims that "expressions of racial prejudice often peak at ages 4 and 5" but that while "Black and Latinx children" at the age of five show "no preference towards their own groups," "white children at this age remain strongly biased in favor of whiteness." A reminder that from even before the moment they are able to speak or walk, it is white children who are the problem. And white children who must be worked on to achieve the change that everybody seems to have agreed is needed.

Overall, the message is that whiteness itself is a pandemic. As one New York Times contributing editor recently put it, whiteness is "a virus that, like other viruses, will not die until there are no bodies left for it to infect."

Elsewhere Khilanani used her talk to warn of the costs of talking to white people at all. She said that it was "the cost of your own life, as they suck you dry. There are no good apples out there." She described white people as "a demented, violent predator," with "holes in their brain" and said that all white people are "out of their minds, and they have been for a long time." And she declared that talking to white people about race is "useless." Which must be why resorts to violence were so common in her talk. But Khilanani is not alone. Only a week before she gave her speech at Yale, another psychoanalyst, named Donald Moss, published an academic article titled "On Having Whiteness" based on a set of his seminars. Describing whiteness as a "parasitic-like condition," he also toyed playfully with some sort of final solution for the problem. "There is not yet a permanent cure," he warned. Though doubtless, in the years to come, there will be many people eager to pick up the challenge of thinking about one.

In the antiracist stampede of 2020, the British Library announced that it "had made a commitment to its staff and its users that it will become an actively anti-racist organization, and will take all the necessary steps required to make this promise a reality." As one part of this great commitment, the Library announced that it was working to create a list of authors who were found to have any connection to the slave trade or colonialism. As it was forming this blacklist of authors, news of some of the names that had been put on it were published online by the Library. The initial list contained the names of three hundred guilty parties, including Oscar Wilde, Lord Byron, and George Orwell. The Library explained that "some items now at the British Library, previously owned by particular figures cited on these pages, are associated with wealth obtained from enslaved people or through colonial violence. Curators in the Printed Heritage Collections team have undertaken some research to identify these, as part of an ongoing work to interpret and document the provenance and history of the printed collections under our care." These "curators" made many early discoveries from their research. One such was that the author Rudyard Kipling was guilty of having made the British Empire "a central theme" in his literary output. Clearly only the best researchers are hired at the British Library. One of these, the chief librarian, Liz Jolly, used the moment to publicly announce that "racism is the creation of white people." Elsewhere, the Library said that although the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge had expressed antislavery views himself and had recorded these views in his poetry, he was on the blacklist nonetheless because he was recorded as having a nephew who lived in Barbados and worked closely with estates where there were slaves. The sins of the father is a familiar problem, but the sins of the people known to the nephew is a new form of associative guilt.

Examples of low bigotries in the world of gardening included that words such as "native" and "heritage" were used as bywords for "better." Later, on social media, Wong reacted to a professor of cities and landscape who asserted that "gardens are denied their political agency because they too often reveal uncomfortable politics." Wong asserted, even more baldly, that British gardening has "racism baked into its DNA." On this occasion, his evidence was that presenting a planting concept once to a roomful of "100% white" people, someone said that they should use "native wildflowers." The idea of "native" wildflowers was, he said, "not just historically fucked" but "predicated on often unconscious ideas of what and who does not 'belong' in the UK." "This is the kind of exhausting shit you have to go through everyday if you work in UK horticulture."

While Britain was waging war on the rhododendrons, in Canada emphasis fell on unsuspecting lawns. In September 2020, JC Douglas (a history professor at Thompson Riv University in Kamloops) gained national attention when he argued the urgent case for decolonizing Canada's lawns. According to Professor Douglas, the lawn is "a statement of control over nature." Which it is, of course. But in the current era, it is not enough to observe that. The sprinklers of anti-Western hostility must also be turned on. So Professor Douglas could be found arguing that all this attempt to dam water, plant lawns, flatten landscapes, and "find a non indigenous species of plant" to put in it was yet another example of a now familiar pattern. "A backyard with a big lawn is like a classroom for colonialism," he explained.
Others joined in this game. According to Dan Kraus, a senior conservation biologist at the Nature Conservancy of Canada, a lawn-like a nation-should be "diverse." "It is a cultural thing," he has said. "There is this interesting comparison like, valuing diversity versus sameness." He believes that future generations may look back at non-culturally diverse lawns in bafflement, and say, "Why did you do that?" Which is possible. Or, alternatively, future generations may look back at Mr. Kraus and feel another bafflement entirely.

Perhaps it is inevitable in a world in which everything else is racist that even the fundamentals of music would be branded in the same light. In the last generation, there has been an increasing drive at the top universities in the Western world to drop the very idea of musical notation because of its allegedly elitist, white, and Western connotations. At universities including Stanford, Harvard, and Yale, there has been an ongoing debate over what demands they should make of those reading music. Should students be expected to learn about the canon of Western music? Should they even be expected to learn the Western system of musical notation, given that it is just one form of musical notation and Western at that? Should the study of music demand any prior musical literacy at all?

Long story short, Douglas Murray yet again managed to raise awareness on some very sensitive topics, and also to show that too much zeal leads to absurdity. To denigrate an entire civilization and its culture because of what happened in the past is useless. It's the present that counts and what can we do to make it better: There are estimated to be over forty million people living in slavery around the world today. In real terms, this means that there are more slaves in the world today than there were in the nineteenth century. So this is not a question of historic what-aboutery. It raises the question of what might practically change for people today if we spent even a portion of the time what we focus on past slavery focused, instead, on present-day slavery. And what we might be able to do about this modern horror.

If you want a look inside the book, you can check this discussion between the author and Jordan B. Peterson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fd5qf...
Profile Image for Seb5253.
18 reviews2 followers
June 25, 2022
*amendment to my earlier review in order to address some unintended offence i appear to have caused ( for which I greatly apologise , but cannot however concede to being " an idiot" on the grounds of a perspective i adhere to but will gladly concede should a clearer one be presented) :
Eulagising such figures as churchill ( who's actions are directly attributable to in excess of 3 million Indian civilian deaths ) and Cecil Rhodes ( who' s African endeavours have become a bench mark in colonial violence) to name but two egregious examples the author cites as exemplars of the west is indefensible, if not shameful. Hiding behind a populist argument ( allbeit one I actually concur needs to be made and agree with the authors own view on the matter) to sell a right wing neo colonialist white-washing of history surley needs to be called out. I suggest acceptance and reconciliation are imperative before western culture can overcome the wounds of its past.
The authors niave and at times juvenile observance of a few historical figures sink this book into a nationalistic mire. His almost orgiastic eulogy on Winston Churchill, the British empire and Rhodes where not only factualy inept but almost made me ditch the book mid way through. (Read Orwell's brilliant brief essay on Nationalism and compare this with Douglas Murray's public schoolboy fervour...). Additionally his cringeworthy conclusion bounds across western cultures triumphant contributions to the sciences, mathematics and the arts while almost entirely ignoring India's several thousand year old influential philosophical works (to be fair, this is mentioned. In a sentence.) , the middle east's foundational work in forming modern mathematics or even north Africa's architects at Giza - roundly shoved aside as largely being either inconsequential or inferior to the output in these fields of the west. Douglas Murray's blatantly hiding behind a populist argument to push a nationalistic agenda so out of date it would make Nigel Farage cringe. Actually felt embarrassed for the author by the end.
Profile Image for David Steele.
426 reviews13 followers
April 30, 2022
A worthy successor to crowds, with more than enough new and original material to make it completely fresh.
By now, I've learned what to expect from Murray. For this detailed study of ‘western anti-westernism’, he uses deft and carefully considered arguments to make his points; always careful to avoid unsubstantiated generalisation or straw-man arguments, with a wide range of real-world examples and points that leave you wondering how on earth intelligent people can be so twisted.
As usual, Murray's wit shines through no matter how serious the topic. With dexterous finesses, such as talking about frightened white westerners behaving 'like masochists without a safe-word', he blends gravity with levity on every page.
Perhaps the title is a little misleading. There really isn't much in here about how to prevail in the age of unreason, unless you count joining the insane anti-western witch hunt and screaming DARVO every time a newly-found heretic protests their innocence.
This is a book that I really want my friends, my colleagues, my children and everyone else I care about to read, but I know it will do very little good for many. The people who have the most to gain from the wisdom in this book are the very ones who are least likely to engage with it. I expect there will be no shortage of one-star reviews for this work, but precious few from those who take the time to read it.
Profile Image for Antigone.
500 reviews741 followers
July 14, 2022
Douglas Murray, an assistant editor of The Spectator and author of the bestseller The Madness of Crowds, here offers a counter-argument to the fundamental charges frequently made by social activists - especially in regard to race, history, religion and culture. He is a fearless man in a fearful time, employing his intellectual might in much the same way the late Christopher Hitchens was known to do whenever something just a little bit twitchy came trundling down the cultural pike. And, much like Hitchens, he is quite at home with confrontation, quite at ease with dispute, and quite extraordinarily comfortable dissecting all the many reasons one's emperor has no clothes.

It is Murray's contention that what lies beneath the shaming accusations and "corrective" measures advanced by our current crop of malcontents is an insidious desire to destroy the entirety of western civilization. History, he believes, is being winnowed down to a very slender thread composed of its most egregious episodes and then fed back to the populace-at-large as if this were all humanity had experienced. The battle waged against slavery, for example, by Britain and the United States, which served to end the legitimacy of the trade in these countries and brought the same moral question to bear in negotiation throughout the world is (one wishes one could say "conveniently") ignored - and with it the monies spent, the lives lost, and the legislations enacted that would (should?) certainly apply when calculating the concept of reparations.

This is but one aspect of a larger and more wide-ranging rebuttal against denunciations Murray feels are not only invalid but pernicious, and purposefully so. His is a solid and informed piece of work; a work that may well hold value for those who view all of this in the most traditional sense - as the early days of a profound and protracted cultural argument.
Profile Image for Tara.
393 reviews19 followers
June 11, 2022
“Forget labels like “right wing” & “dark web”, read a book without preconceptions about the author & judge what it actually says. For what it’s worth, I always vote left & I think Douglas Murray’s The War on the West is utterly superb. Please read it with an open mind. Please.”
-Tweet from Richard Dawkins

4.5 stars. A well-written, extraordinarily incisive look at the current climate of scorn and disdain for Western culture and values, primarily focusing on the self-loathing that springs from within the West itself. Murray posits that, in our eagerness to right past wrongs and correct any remaining current wrongs, we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater; the West has many redeeming qualities, qualities well worth preserving, and to deny that in the name of “progress” isn’t going to lead to genuine progress at all. Genuine progress would consist of keeping what works and discarding what doesn’t. That this needs clarifying is a rather sad state of affairs.

To my mind, a lot of what’s going on today, such as corporations giving seminars on how utterly and completely toxic “whiteness” is, actually boils down to whether or not two wrongs ever make a right. Many of the current policies and attitudes which aim to correct said wrongs are openly racist and sexist. Which I believe is deplorable no matter which group(s) you’re targeting. But whether you agree with me or not, I’d urge you to simply do as Dawkins suggests and read this book with an open mind. Make up your own mind as to whether what Murray has to say has any validity or not. Because this is truly an impressively well-reasoned, evidence-supported, earnest attempt to examine the current m.o. and analyze its shortcomings in a sensible, rational manner.

I’m including some excerpts below, but I’m afraid they don’t do the book proper justice. I highly recommend picking it up for yourself so you can read them in context.

“Fanon, like many other postcolonial writers who became famous in the West, is not really interested in restoring the cultures of the non-Western countries he claims to care about. He is not interested in returning African nations to an era of tribal customs or any other precolonial Indigenous tradition. What he is interested in is analyzing these cultures through a Marxist lens and then “saving” them by applying a Marxist ideology to them. Naturally there is something perverse about this. For Marx was a Western thinker, with next to no knowledge—let alone experience—of non-Western cultures or societies. Just one of the ironies of the postcolonialist thinkers is that so many take the same path as Fanon. Intent in shrugging off the legacy of Western colonialism, they find an answer for every non-Western society in Western Marxism.”

“In recent years, the critics of the West have marked themselves out through a set of extraordinary claims. Their technique now has a pattern. It is to zoom in on Western behavior, remove it from the context of the time, set aside any non-Western parallels, and then exaggerate what the West actually did.”

“Before the modern era, the whole history of our species was one of occupation and conquering. One group of original peoples were replaced by another group of other peoples.”

“I was told that as a white non–South African I had no right to say that South Africa today is not a white-supremacist society. Minutes earlier, the same person had felt free to tell me that Britain is “the home of racism.” Not for the first time, I marveled at the fact that generalizations about the West remain the only generalizations acceptable to make. Whereas specific questions about specific claims made about non-Western countries are batted away as though they could not possibly contain any merit and are in fact presumptuous even to raise.”

“Could it really be honest to lambaste the art of the West for being parochial or limiting? The very question now has a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” quality. For if a culture is to be condemned as insular, parochial, and limited if it is inward-looking, yet lambasted for cultural appropriation if it is outward-looking, then what exactly is a culture to do? In such a situation, it would appear that an unfair, indeed hostile, trap has been set up. One in which Western culture can be simultaneously attacked for its insularity and lambasted for not being insular enough.”

“Today the West faces challenges without and threats within. But no greater threat exists than that which comes from people inside the West intent on pulling apart the fabric of our societies, piece by piece. By assaulting the majority populations in these countries. By saying that our histories are entirely reprehensible and have nothing good to be said about them. By claiming that everything in our past that has led up to our present is irredeemably riddled with sin and that while these same sins have beset every society in history, the debtor should knock at only one door. And most importantly by those who pretend that a civilization that has given more to the world in knowledge, understanding, and culture than any other in history somehow has nothing whatsoever to be said for it. What is anyone to say or do in the face of such myopic, omnipresent hatred?”

“Such people have nothing to say about themselves, or about anyone outside of the West, because to do so might lead them to change the direction in which their resentment is funneled. It might in fact cause them to finally turn their gaze on themselves. If the West is not responsible for all ills in the world, in its past and in the past and present of others, then other actors must be held responsible. And some people would have to look to themselves to explain their lack of outcomes, achievements, and more. They would have to look into the causes of their discontents and see that at least one of them is themselves. How much easier it is to keep claiming that another party—and a vast, historic party at that—is responsible for all the ills of the world and of their own lives.”
Profile Image for Marcus.
515 reviews11 followers
May 16, 2022
Douglas Murray continues in the footsteps of his previous works The Madness of Crowds and The Strange Death of Europe with this comprehensive investigation of oikophobia. The phrase oikophobia being a term coined by Roger Scruton for hatred of one’s own culture. In this case it refers to people within the west being highly critical of the west; literally biting the hand that feeds them.

Isn’t life hard enough already without shouldering an additional sense of Original Sin over the history and immutable characteristics we are born with? All animals have fought for expanded territory and conquest against rival groups to the best of their means and capabilities since day dot. Why is the west particularly bad and compared to where?

As vast swathes of Russia, China, Asia, The Middle East, Africa, South America et al continue to lurch from insurmountable misery to insurmountable misery throughout history, there is presumably a sense of comfort and certainty for the critics in turning their attention inwards. They have the luxury of policing the old quotes of western historical heroes and searching for modern day micro-aggressions on social media. As Don Quixote tilted at windmills in the absence of any remaining giants to fight so must they create such chimeras.

None of this is to suggest the west as anything close to a utopia but the crust of civilisation is a thin one and hard won so they are in effect ranting against one of the calmer periods of history in the calmest regions. Meanwhile the global norm continues to be a case of torture, slavery, repression etc. So again, why is there a disproportionate focus on the crimes of the west?

The Arab trading of Africans (and Europeans) toted up higher numbers than the western trade yet receives less attention due to the identity of the purveyors. Britain was first to stop participating in the existing African slave markets and went to great effort and cost to outlaw the trade globally. The reason Britain’s troops firing on a crowd in India was notable and big news is because it was an unacceptable anomaly, investigated, condemned and the guilty party punished.

This just isn’t the case elsewhere, the crimes would likely never even be acknowledged, nor the free speech granted to criticise them. It is of course easy to constantly guilt trip and make a doormat of the parties who are willing to show the most contrition. Where are the demands for historical apologies globally and where would they end if every scab is continually picked open?

Murray has a rich well to draw from with regular misunderstandings of facts and statistics as social media crowds whip themselves up into a frenzy. The audiobook in particular makes for a good listen as he gives the angry, irrational outbursts a suitably deranged voice for quotations.

Disingenuous and often fabricated claims are taken to task. An interesting point is made when Murray asserts that the “leftist” love for native cultures is fetishistic and shallow. They often wish to impose another foreign, western ideology; in this case putting them under the boot of Marxist industrialism and deconstructionist narratives.

The collapse of religion in the west has left a huge absence of meaning, with many people not satisfied to live out their lives as atomised consumer units. It is thus understandable that an unhappy, wired generation would congregate around a subjective orthodoxy of moral purity and virtue with such zeal.

Those that would once have counted themselves as rebels against a system now fall into lockstep with the globalist elites behind every corporation, education syllabus, media institution and social media platform. This, as rival interest groups repeatedly clash within ever more densely packed nations. Grievance politics and its obsessive devotees are unhelpful to say the least.

As The War On The West exhaustively makes clear, this acquired sense of purpose is sadly masochistic, unhealthy and ultimately unfair. For now there remain some critical voices such as Murray's who question the wisdom of this skewed focus on all things western; rather than employing “whataboutery” they are simply asking for all important context and consistency.
Profile Image for Matthew.
382 reviews8 followers
January 19, 2023
It is a tragedy of the times that this book was even written.

But for those even remotely interested in the subject, this is an essential read.
Sadly, it is likely to be left unread and unappreciated by those who need to read it the most. In my opinion, the book *should* be read by everyone, as it addresses and challenges many of the underlying assumptions and framing of discussions and actions that are ongoing at almost every level of modern life today (politics, media, education, culture, etc...).

I am a newcomer to Douglas Murray, and have not read any of his previous works (although, after this book, that may well change), so this review is based on this single exposure to his works.

My first exposure to Douglas Murray came from an interview I heard him give - and I found him articulate, insightful, well-researched, and thoughtful. So much so, that I purchased this (newly released as of May 2022) book and gave it a go.

And I was not disappointed: The book is very well written, imminently readable, and entirely enjoyable - despite being chock full of careful references and research. And it is critical (meaning vital) information relevant to the current trends of the day. (The book is, as the title suggests, also critical (meaning it critiques) those current trends. The information and references are often fascinating and not well known, adding additional value.

Bottom line: Regardless of your perspective, if you are considering this book at all, don't hesitate - read it now, and then share it with others.
Profile Image for Mansoor.
644 reviews8 followers
July 13, 2022
نق‌ونوق‌های تقلیل‌گرانه و مزورانه‌ی یک لیبرال تیپیک دست‌راستی
فی‌المثل نویسنده از روی خوش نشان دادن کلیساهای مسیحی به جریان ووک نژادی و حتی در آغوش گرفتنش می‌نالد. اینکه فلان اسقف با عذرخواهی بابت "نژادپرستی نهادی" به تعالیم اناجیل خیانت کرده. نویسنده هرگز روشنمان نمی‌کند که چرا اذعان به وجود نابرابری‌های نژادی در مغایرت با تعالیم مسیحی قرار می‌گیرد، عوضش در مورد یک مصداق مهم دیگر بدجوری خودش را به کوچه‌ی علی‌چپ می‌زند: همجنس‌خواهی. نویسنده که خودش همجنس‌خواه است ابدا به روی مبارک نمی‌آورد که بخش بزرگی از کلیساهای مسیحی با مساله‌ی ازدواج همجنس‌ها کنار آمده‌اند، امری که اتفاقا در تضاد آشکار با تعالیم دیرین کلیساست. ماجرای لیبرال‌های چپگرا و لیبرال‌های دست‌راستی حکایت همان دوگانه‌ی جعلی اصلاح‌طلب/اصولگرای خودمان است: سگ زرد برادر شغال
Profile Image for Sebastian Gebski.
952 reviews840 followers
December 6, 2022
I'm not sure it's the book that ought to be rated - the rating would be treated as a measure of how much I do agree with the statements in the book, not its (book's) quality.

When it comes to the quality of the book itself, it's good but far from perfect:
* sometimes the language is too emotional - yes, it's easy to get pissed off with some people's stupidity, but still, let's stay pro
* I've caught at least three inaccuracies (or oversimplifications) - the most obvious is probably the statement about the Slavery Abolition Act: the reasons behind the decisions were obviously more complex than what is presented in the book (e.g., "it will harm our enemies more than us")

What were the sections I found most interesting?
Oh, there were plenty. The chapter about reparations is very good, and the ones about "privilege" and cultural imitation are great as well - in fact, it's hard to find any section one could find redundant or not informative. My absolute top one was about the hypocrisy of the far left, whose witch-hunting efforts' results are sometimes utterly ridiculous, while Marks himself seems to be excluded from any scrutiny ... keeping in mind his letters to Engels, LOL.

Back to the very topic of the book - it's far from pleasant, but these days it seems unavoidable :( Personally, I consider myself very far from ANY extreme (left or right). I worship free thought, common sense, and mutual respect: that's how I live and what I teach to my child. But it's hard to omit the wokeness madness that spreads across the whole world, re-writing the past, killing reason with utopian socialism and/or pure anarchy. I've seen socialism, real socialism (fortunately, only its declining period) - and I dare to say NO MORE. Woke activists don't solve problems; they burn bridges, incite fires, set up new walls, and spawn hatred - while what we need is the real humanism represented by color/race/gender/...-blindness, transparency, and decisions based on objective facts, instead of mob's terror.

To keep the long story short, I recommend you to read "The War ...". Go for that, make your own mind, challenge whatever you want to be challenged, THINK for yourself, rely on facts, and learn to double-check.
Profile Image for Tim.
8 reviews2 followers
April 29, 2022
As ever, Douglas Murray’s work is expertly researched, deftly argued, and masterfully written.

His interlude on gratitude is particularly apposite and eloquent; and his conclusion could easily be titled, “Checkmate: End of Discussion”.

It’s a poignantly brilliant book, and is his best work to date in my opinion. I highly recommend it to all those who are objective, reasonable, logical, sensible, and anti-miserable; as well as to those who reject shallow, postmodern gnostic drivel.
Profile Image for Henry.
636 reviews28 followers
October 16, 2022
Extremely well written and informative. This book should be read by anyone contemplating our current social and political situation and what a proper discourse about it should entail.
Profile Image for Volbet .
226 reviews5 followers
July 9, 2022
I will admit that Douglas Murray's thesis statement here is different from his previous books. In the introductory chapter, Murray lays out his thought on what he perceives as the one-sided nature of the “culture war,” and proposes that he wants to change that one-sidedness with this book.
And if Murray had actually strived towards constructing an alternative to progressive discourse, this book might have been half interesting. Instead, Murray falters to the same tired, stereotypical tropes of the recently popular conservative and Liberal pop-critics.
The book essentially defaults to merely reacting to things that progressives have said or done, without constructing anything that resembles an argument that’s contrary to whatever progressive action is being reacted to. This way of arguing basically rely on the reader already agreeing with the author’s point of view, or at least that the reader is on the fence regarding the issues discussed.

But let’s break it down by chapters, shall we? Although, I will not go into the introduction and the conclusion.

The chapter can be summarized as all the critical race theory scaremongering you’ve seen on the news the last year distilled onto 40-ish pages. All the hits are being played here. From “Martin Luther King wouldn’t have wanted this” over “anti-racists are the real racists” to “CRT is racism against white people.”

The problem is that Murray never does anything to discredit these things. This entire chapter is like Murray standing on a pier, looking over the ocean, and stating that there’s obviously no fish out there, refusing to join bell hooks in the submarine to on an aquatic safari.
Or said another way, Murray just takes the old Thomas Sowell route of saying that the Ku Klux Klan isn’t holding cross burnings on people’s lawns anymore, so there’s no racism. And on several occasions Murray completely refuses to engage with the structural arguments raised by the people he’s engaging with.

This chapter also demonstrates Murray’s weird relationship to methodological individualism. When it comes to the system as is, Murray has no problem in separating the system from the people, but when it comes to progressive voices critiquing white people as a social construct, as being a construct that’s inherently based on racist exclusions from the privileged group, then Murray can’t see any difference between the system and individual. So in Murray’s analysis, when Ibram Xolani Kendi calls for a less racially exclusive system, then Kendi is calling all white people racist. This also demonstrates that Murray is apparently incapable of differentiating between active racist acts (like lynching an ethnic minority) from the passive enjoyment of privilege in a system that grants you that privilege at the expense of other ethnic groups.
I’m sure Murray doesn’t buy into Kendi’s analysis, but there’s no way for the reader to know that, because Murray never engages with the analysis in any way.

Interlude: China
I will say it’s kinda wild for Murray to start this interlude with equating the Opium War with Chinese produced Fentanyl in the US. Yes, apparently the deliberate policy of destroying the social order of Qing China by the British and French is the same as gangsters in modern China producing drugs for the American black markets.
Again, this goes to show that Murray can’t really grasp the difference between individual actions and systemic actions.

For the rest of the chapter, I’m rather confused as to what point Murray is trying to make. What I got was that China uses the colonialist and slaveholding past of the West as ammunition in the international hegemony, that China is also racist and that we should also criticism China for their exclusionary policies.

At the end, Murray makes a weird point about historical knowledge. It all boils down to a reversed no-true-Scotsman fallacy. The reason people don’t agree with Murray is because people don’t know about the horrors of the Third Reich, Stalin’s Soviet Union, or Maoist China. It’s an argument wherein Murray can forever move the goalpost. It’s also just a poor argument, as it presupposes that people need an in-depth knowledge of world history before they can suggest changes to their own material circumstances. This is just Jordan Peterson’s rule 6 all over again.
This also flies in the face of the previous chapter, as that chapter listed plenty of academics, some of which are historians and most which have written book about history, who all disagree with Murray’s position. Is Murray really suggesting that these people know less about history than he does?

I officially welcome Murray, the hypocrite. As someone who has read Murray’s previous book, The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam, Murray’s defense of colonialism reads like the ultimate example of “good for me but not for thee.”
In the aforementioned book, Murray argues that it’s bad that people from cultures incompatible with Western values shouldn’t be able to immigrate, flee to or settle in Western countries. Yet in this book, Murray is arguing that colonialism was good for the countries that was colonized. In Murray’s world it’s apparently morally reprehensible for a Muslim to settle in London, but it’s for the greater good when a Cockney lad settles in Punjab.
And on the topic of colonialism, I don’t think I’ve met the person that would argue that the introduction of modern agriculture in India, but it’s dishonest when Murray dismisses that the story of colonialism is written in blood. Yes, Belgium brought the railway to the Congo Free State, but they also slaughtered half the population and exported incalculable amounts of wealth from Central Africa to Europe, stealing away the natural resources from the natives to enrich a crowned head of a European power.

It would also feel like a missed opportunity not to not comment on Murrays asinine take on the genocide of the native American population. Murray’s only comment is essentially that the British settlers at Fort Pitt didn’t know about immunology or germ theory, therefor the smallpox-infested blankets wasn’t an act of genocide. This is very stupid for at least two reasons:
1) saying it couldn’t be a genocidal act due to a lack of knowledge of immunology, is like saying that the Vikings weren’t seafarers since they didn’t know about fluid mechanics, or that birds can’t fly since they don’t know about aerodynamics. You obviously don’t need deep knowledge of the mechanics of a phenomenon to exploit the material use of the phenomenon.

2) Biological warfare, including weaponizing diseases, has been a tactic at least since the Mongol Empire, where the Golden Horde would catapult their plague infested brethren over the walls of cities to, you guessed it, spread the plague. This tactic was also utilized during the Hundred Year War and the numerous skirmishes in the Holy Roman Empire. Spreading diseases as an act of war certainly wouldn’t have been a foreign concept to 18th century British colonialists.
While I can’t answer Murray’s rhetorical question to colonizers, I can at least limit the answer. What should Columbus have done after he discovered America? Not genocide would be a good start, and not exploit the native population as slave labor would be a great second thing to do.

Last for this chapter will be a short remark on how I think it’s pretty funny that Murray criticizes an author for not citing his sources, when this book, at least up until now, has had an alarming lack of citations for its most outrageous claims.

Interlude: Reparations
The main thesis of this chapter is that it doesn’t make sense for people that haven’t directly committed atrocities to pay reparations to people that haven’t directly been the subject of atrocities.
I’m obviously an expert on fuck-all, so I’m not going to comment on whether or not reparations would be a good idea and in what form they would best be paid out. But I’m going to comment on why Murray’s thesis is flawed.

The thing is this, Murray doesn’t seem to be able to separate the individual from the state, the concrete from the abstract. It’s certainly true that no one alive today in the US have legally owned a cattle slave on American soil, but the state(s) that for over 200 years enforced slavery is still around. The entity that forced slaves back to their masters is still here, ready to be held accountable for the sins of the past.
And while it is true that no one alive in the US today has been a cattle slave on US soil, the effects of 200 years of slavery, and 100 years of enforced racism, still show its scares across racial lines today. While there are no cattle slaves, there are millions of people in the US today who have been denied access to generational wealth building for 300 years. Just outlawing racist practices isn’t going to fix that amount of exploitation.

Murray’s introduction to this chapter, where he contrasts the Christian response to a Bible being burned to the Muslim response to the burning of a Qur’an is very lacking in context.
The Bible burned in Murray’s example was burned on US soil, disrespected by someone who, most likely, was brought up in a Christian culture and carried out his act in a country that’s majority Christian. The burning of the Qur’an, however unknowingly, was carried out by an occupying military force from a foreign culture in a Muslim majority country. The situations were totally different, and as the responses were different.

Again, Murray’s weird obsession with the sinless person show up. Although, this time it’s not heads of state, but philosophers that worries Murray.
By this point it’s not contested that people like Immanuel Kant, John Locke and David Hume were, but today’s standard, rather racist. Especially Kant in his much less read anthropological work was very much something that could be considered a prototype of the racism that was to come, as Kant took on a shift from separating races on spiritual grounds and began classifying races in scientific terms.
I do think this is an important realization to make, and an important thing to add when teaching about the Western canon of philosophy, as the three aforementioned philosophers have been instrumental in forming how we think and act in the West today. Adding the fact that the foundational ideas of modern Western thought were exclusionary to ethnic minorities, shows that the system Murray frames as free for everyone was never formed to be so. We can essentially track the unkept promise of Liberalism’s claim of “freedom and justice for all” all they way back to the beginning of Liberalism.

I will for once agree with Murray. Karl Marx was indeed extremely racist by today’s standards. What Marx wrote about Africans, African Americans, Jews, Mexicans, and Indians is abhorrent, and those things should defiantly have a place in any discussion on Marx and Marxism.
But I don’t think it’s the gotcha that Murray thinks it is. While I don’t go out of my way to interview every Marxist I meet, I can’t say I’ve heard any of them say that their concept of material politics, dialectics, historical positivism, and economics rests on whether or not Marx held Jews in low esteem. Marxism is a living philosophy, and Marx might be the founder, but he’s not the building.
Considering how willing Murray has previously been to dig deep into stories about characters like Cecil Rhodes and Churchill, it’s rather hypocritical that Murray doesn’t extend the same curtesy to Michel Foucault. I guess it’s only a problem to mischaracterize people you agree, right?
Just so we’re clear, there’s no evidence that Foucault engaged in pedophilia or the raping of minors for money in Tunisia. There’s one account, that of Guy Sorman, which hasn’t been cooperated by any other people that meet with or saw Foucault in Tunisia. And since it’s publication in March 2021, Sorman’s accounts have been countered by various other sources, and Sorman has even refused to comment on the accounts that go against his. For those interested, Jeune Afrique did some stellar reporting on this claim and concluded that Sorman’s accusations against Foucault are false. And while I’m not sure if Murray can read French, but Soreman did take back his accusations against Foucault in an article in L’Express, published on April 09th 2021, almost a year before this book was published. I guess only Murray know why this wasn’t important enough to add to the book.
It’s true that Foucault, along side other French public figures, signed the Open Letter to the Commission for a Revision of the Penal Code Governing Relations between Adults and Minors, but it wasn’t as straightforward a letter as Murray presents it as. The majority of the letter sought to equalize the age of consent between heterosexuals and homosexuals, as that wasn’t the case in France in 1977 and the arrest of homosexual men that had sexual relations with people who had otherwise reached the French age of consent was common. And if you read Foucault’s actual statements on the letter, his reasoning was not to allow pedophilia. Rather, Foucault’s saw that the current paradigm of classifying sexual violence removed agency from the victims of sexual violence. A minor wasn’t sexually violated because they had been abused and violated, they had a victim simply because of their age. The actual experience of events wasn’t a part of the calculation. They were victims because the state told them they were. On a psychological level, Foucault and his fellow signees were probably very wrong, but Murray’s framing of this as Foucault just wanting to fuck children is very dishonest and intellectually bankrupt.

Interlude: Gratitude
Murray is really trying to capture that Jordan B. Peterson audience.
Murray starts out with a brief and very surface-level explanation of ressentiment, with a focus on the way Friedrich Nietzsche framed ressentiment in On the Genealogy of Morality. However, the way Murray lays out ressentiment and applies it to the progressive movements in the West, you’d think he had never read any Nietzsche.
What Murray gets wrong, is that he seems to interpret ressentiment as merely action against someone else. To paraphrase Murray’s idol for this chapter, ressentiment is people not cleaning out their rooms. This is not the same way that Nietzsche explains ressentiment. Instead, Nietzsche considered ressentiment a fundamental expression of slave morality, where, due to their own failings, the slaves forces everyone into a system that project the slaves’ failings onto everyone. But that is not to say that every action that’s external to the individual is an act of ressentiment. The masters in Nietzsche’s moral philosophy can also act externally, but rather than ressentiment their actions are an expression of the will to power.
While I’m far from suggesting that progressive goal is to triumph through will, I also don’t think the expression of progressive politics fit into the Nietzschean framework of ressentiment. Or said another way, Murray is trying to fit a square peg through a round hole when applying Nietzsche to modern politics.
And just to comment on the framing of Murray himself. I can’t really see how the progressive project is projecting their own failings out to everyone else. What is most prevalent in the progressive discourse is that the failing of the individual is not down to the individual, rather that the system, within which the individual is forced to act, is acting against the individual. The progressive doesn’t want to change the system because they can’t succeed in it. They want to change the system because the system won’t let them succeed.

I don’t know if I’m just getting tired or if Murray is slowly running out of steam. Honestly, it could very well be both.
Most of this chapter just continues with Murray listing off things he doesn’t like and expecting that his readers won’t like them either. By this point the War on the West is less of a book and more a compendium of things that have happened.

Regarding Murray’s distinction between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation, that completely misses the point. On an individual level an artist can apricate a culture different from their own, but the culture around them is what makes it cultural appropriation. The issue with Michael Tippett’s usage of spirituals in his music is that Tippett himself wanted to create spirituals. It’s that his renditions of the spirituals became the versions people knew. Not only affording Tippett the ownership over songs he didn’t create, but removing the complex, racial history of spirituals from versions that entered the popular culture.
For a more recent example, you don’t have to look further back than 1990 and Vanilla Ice’s Ice Ice Baby, the first hip-hop song to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Hip-hop had been a predominantly African American artform for over a decade prior, but only reached popularity when the style was performed rather poorly by a white person.

One thing that did stand out in this chapter is how Murray’s approach to culture can contrast with his previous approach in the Strange Death of Europe.
In that book, the threat that is looming over Europe is considered cultural by Murray. So why is that in the War on the West Murray consider it a force for good when cultures adopt and exports elements from one another, but when elements of Middle Eastern and African culture is taken up in the West, it’s framed as bad in the Strange Death of Europe? If we have to take the two books at face value, it seems like Murray is arguing that it’s for the cultural good when the West goes into the world, forces their culture on the peoples and take home what they like from the cultures they settled. But it’s bad when other cultures do the same to the West.

Profile Image for Kiki.
651 reviews
October 14, 2022
Evil cannot be destroyed until it is seen and recognized as evil. The purpose of this book is to lay bare for us the evil that we, in the West, are currently doing to ourselves and the world, so that we can stop it.

The world culture which has brought equality, human rights, individual dignity and democracy into being on a global scale — the West — has suddenly turned on itself and begun tearing itself apart.

Meanwhile, the elements of world culture which have NOT embraced these ideals are watching from the sidelines with delight. And now that they are certain we are entirely consumed with this process, they are beginning to flex their Authoritarian, human-rights-crushing muscles with greater and greater strength. China is squashing Hong Kong and placing their Muslims in concentration camps, while Russia is invading Ukraine, because they know now is their moment to act. The West is so self-absorbed in self-hatred and self-destruction that we will no longer stand up for human rights anywhere else in the world.

This has to stop. Or all of humanity will pay for it.
Profile Image for John Hunt.
Author 11 books221 followers
April 29, 2022

Well thought out and constructed. In a time of illogical prevalence, the logic presented here was refreshing even if you don't agree. The author, in his own words, doesn't mind if you disagree provided that you're an honest actor. Which, in my opinion, is fair and encouraging.
Profile Image for Khari.
2,379 reviews56 followers
February 16, 2023
For some reason, when I started reading this book I was under the impression that Douglas Murray was a provocateur a la Alex Jones or Milo however-you-spell-his-last-name.

He's not.

I don't know where that impression came from, but I have since abandoned it. Douglas is actually a nuanced thinker, and I would probably classify him under a gentleman thinker. He exudes slightly wealthy, educated British gentleman who likes to sit around discussing things with others while smoking a pipe. At least, that's my image as I listen to him read this book.

He said a lot of things in this book that I didn't know if they were true or not. I don't have enough of a background in musicology to know if it is true that while the typical musical staff taught in Western schools is capable of representing any kind of music, other historical systems from other nations are not. But I kind of think it's probably true, and the reason is that the West is also responsible for the International Phonetic Alphabet, affectionately known as the IPA. Said alphabet is a way of marking down phonetically every sound the human vocal apparatus is capable of emitting. You can write down every sound from every culture using the IPA, and you can't do that using any other writing system. Why is that? Why does the west have this insane drive to classify things? To understand things?

I don't know, but I thought that Mr. Murray correctly put his finger on the heartbeat of what has caused western culture to thrive, and that heartbeat is curiosity. It's a value that is, or at least, was, inculcated in us. The burning desire to know, to understand, and to discover is what was responsible for the advances we enjoy today. The thing that frightens me is that I don't see that curiosity anymore. Where did it go? I see a lot of contentment, a lot of satisfaction with the status quo, and a lot of stagnation. Can I say that western culture is vibrant and growing as of this moment? Not really, it seems more like it's navel gazing, obsessed with itself, and focused inward instead of outward. It seems almost as though we have abandoned everything that brought us to this position in history because we believe we no longer need it. I don't think that attitude is correct.

This book made me want to read Nietzche even more. I want to read the philosopher who dealt with resentment and how it plays out in society. I want to read the man who predicted where we would be today, consumed with ourselves, bitter, ungrateful, and obsessed with self-identity, anxious only to take those who are happy and make them as miserable as ourselves.
Profile Image for Miguel.
701 reviews59 followers
May 15, 2022
Though Murray’s latest entry into the culture wars has some similarities to, say, the recent work by John McWhorter (‘Woke Racism’), one critical difference is that as McWhorter explains he is writing to the New Yorker crowd while it’s all so obvious that Murray’s rants are clearly aimed at the Ben Shapiro / Faux News / Newsmax listenership. This is an issue because he rarely makes any attempt to convince anyone outside of the ditto-head philosophical leaning rabble on the merits of his arguments and instead is just boiler plate boring grievances to serve as chum for his readership. Just take one of his ham-fisted examples: is the information regarding the centuries-long castrating of African slaves by middle easterners actually true and if so what bearing does it have on the obvious wrongs done by European slave traders and the founding of the ‘West’? It’s sophomoric. He just comes off as a hack throughout even when he would otherwise make some decent argumentation.
Profile Image for Cindy McBride.
93 reviews6 followers
April 28, 2022
An amazing book! I typically am not a great fan of British authors, but Murray is a definite exception. Many of the observations he made sounded almost as if he had a front-row seat to the machinations of my own mind. Clear, tough common sense evaluations of the downhill road that many Americans are taking with regard to their own country and the principles upon which it was founded. Personally, I blame most of it on our current infatuation with the elitist members of academia...many of whom likely never held a real job (i.e., in the private sector)...and are now "teaching" our future leaders. Scary. Very scary.
38 reviews
June 13, 2022
There is no war on Christmas, and there is no war on the west. This book relies on many common right wing conspiracy theories and general misinformation to support dubious conclusions.
Profile Image for Cav.
658 reviews89 followers
July 15, 2022
"In recent years it has become clear that there is a war going on: a war on the West. This is not like earlier wars, where armies clash and victors are declared. It is a cultural war, and it is being waged remorselessly against all the roots of the Western tradition and against everything good that the Western tradition has produced..."

Douglas Murray has done it again. This is my second from the author, after his 2017 book The Strange Death of Europe. This one was just as good, if not better.

Author Douglas Kear Murray is a British writer and political commentator. He founded the Centre for Social Cohesion in 2007, which became part of the Henry Jackson Society, where he was associate director from 2011 to 2018.

Douglas Murray:

Murray begins the book with a great intro. He is an excellent author and orator. Douglas is one of the sharper authors/pundits of our modern day, IMHO. The intro here is worth the price of the book alone. The audiobook version I have is also read by the author; which is a nice touch I always appreciate.

Those that have been paying attention to the culture war in the last few years (or even decades) have likely noticed a growing trend. There has been a large cultural movement sweeping through society that seeks to demonize and attack the foundational tenets of Western Civilization. The late conservative author Sir Roger Scruton coined it "oikophobia," which serves as an antithesis to "xenophobia." Oikophobia is defined as the "dislike of the home."
This is the larger thesis here, and Murray opens the book with the quote above.

To someone who has not followed modern western politics/culture/social trends in the last ~decade or so, the book would read like absurd satire. Indeed, in 2022, it is becoming increasingly difficult to discern satire from reality...

If you jumped in a time machine and gave this book to someone even 5-10 years ago, they would likely laugh off the events told of here as nothing more than incoherent ramblings from the borderline mentally ill. Well, in 2022, the inmates have taken over the asylum, and they are leveraging their institutional power to full effect. And while much (or even most) of their ideology can be written off as absurdist nonsense, people who do so publicly are now at a very real risk of having their lives (and livelihoods) ruined by an angry mob of ideologically-possessed zealots. Heather Mac Donald calls them "grievance collectors." Steven Pinker calls them "offense archeologists."

Hatred and self-loathing toward Western Civilization and white people, in general, has been a growing trend. Murray traces the roots of this trend to thinkers like Michel Foucault, Edward Said, and Jean-Paul Sartre. Herbert Marcuse out of The Frankfurt School in Germany (although not mentioned in this book) played a large role, as well. Marcuse provided the philosophical underpinnings to neo-Marxists and Critical Theorists; Angela Davis, among the more notable names.

This line of thinking has spread its tentacles into virtually every faction of society, from its genesis in fringe leftist academia. From these humble beginnings, this ideology has now managed to achieve a virtual stranglehold on most of corporate America, Ivy League academia (including many of the non-social sciences), pop culture, Hollywood, even the Catholic Church and wider mainstream America.

Murray covers the recent racial moral panics, which include various "noose" sightings, and the faked racial attack on actor Jussie Smollet.
Race grifters and assorted racial grievance collectors, such as Ta-Nehisi Coates, Robin DiAngelo, and Ibram X. Kendi are also covered here.

Some more of what is covered by Murray in these pages includes:
• Anti-Western historical revisionists.
Critical Race Theory (CRT)
The 1619 Project
• Modern iconoclasm; the tearing down of statues.
• The death of George Floyd.
• South Africa's recent anti-Rhodes campaign.
• Examination of historical British Empire and Colonialism.
• Slavery; the Arab slave trade East which exceeded the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
• The issue of Reparations.
• The modern attacks on Winston Churchill.
• The new religion of Antiracism.
• "Woke" Churches; the burning of over 30 Canadian Churches in 2021.
• The corruption of academia by far-left ideology; encroachment into the hard sciences.
• The lunacy of the "antiracist" movement; "racist" libraries, gardens, lawns, and orchestras.
• The attacks on meritocracy in favour of race-based quotas.
• The nonsensical term "cultural appropriation."

At the heart of the book is the strange and culturally suicidal emergence of neo-Marxism; with race acting as a proxy for the historical class struggles. In this familiar paradigm, the underclass proletariat have been substituted with "people of colour", and the overclass bourgeoisie have been substituted with white people.

So, what's going on here with all this insanity?? Well, although not touched on in the book, the ultimate cause for this debacle is people's inborn pro-social wiring, and the way that the average person determines what "truth" is. When people want to find the truth (in general), they do not objectively weigh the evidence, and then reach a conclusion. We are not computers, and have not evolved with a "truth detecting" evolutionary framework. We instead look for "social proof" and then adopt the same stance. This faulty mechanism often leads to ideological purity spirals. After that, dogma takes over, and reason takes a backseat.

People will believe anything they are told; once public opinion has perceived to hit a tipping point. This is the same mechanism that has been responsible for the worst manmade catastrophes in history; from Communism's ~100 million dead in 100 years, to the Holocaust, to many historical genocides. It's properly termed "pathological groupthink."
See Solomon Asch's famous conformity experiments for a further understanding of this mechanism.
Social contagions are a hell of a drug...

What is the response to all this madness? Part of the solution lies in a bit of historical perspective. Paradoxically, at the same time that these malcontents are screeching the loudest, there has never been a time or place where the average person has had things better than now, in modern Western Civilization. This is the reason that much of the rest of the world is trying to emigrate to western countries.
Murray drops this excellent quote, that was part of an interlude in the book titled "Gratitude." I agree 100%:
"People who have the good fortune to live in the West are not just the inheritors of comparatively good economic fortune. They have inherited a form of government, justice, and law for which they ought to feel profound gratitude. It may not always be perfect, but it is better by far than any of the alternatives on offer. And when it comes to what we in the West have inherited all around us, this must count as one of the greatest gifts, if not the greatest gift, that any civilization has left for those who came after. A gift not just in liberal order and beautiful cities and landscapes but in artistic achievement, cultural inheritance, and a wealth of examples of how to live. Examples never exceeded anywhere on earth..."


This book should be required reading for young, impressionable minds, who are being brainwashed in our modern schools of rigid ideological conformity.
Murray has put together a powerhouse of a book here.
5 stars, and a spot on my "favorites" shelf.
86 reviews
July 21, 2022
I thought that this book would discuss the current challenges of the West in a balanced way in view of the high ratings by the readers. However I found out that the book is so biased that it takes away the credibility of the book. The only explanation I can think of for these ratings is that the readers who bought the book did it because they shared these views and very few people who knew better than me bothered to read it.

When discussing issues such as racism, the defensive position of Murray is to say that others did worse : he admits the disproportionate number of Black people killed by police in the US...but claims that more Black people kill police.I don’t know if this is true but one bad thing does not make another bad thing acceptable. When discussing China, Murray admits that the opium wars were bad but goes on to say that Mao Zedong killed more people with the famine resulting from the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.
I could go on and on but it would take a book to refute all the one-sided arguments of the author.

I would have given zero stars to the book if it had been an option but can give one star as there is one statement of Murray I agree with : we should never generalise e.g in saying all White people are racists.

So unless you share the views of the author I would recommend you stay away from this book.
Profile Image for Shelley.
79 reviews
February 22, 2023
This is a must-read for understanding the current political climate.

The beginning of the book was not new to me (reminded me of Woke Racism by John McWhorter). Towards the middle and end, Murray provides new insights and historical context for specific stories from recent or distant past.

He highlights how activists and scholars (Kendi, NHJ, DiAngelo, etc.) manipulate facts to meet preconceived narratives. The comparison Murray made between the way Enlightenment theorists and Karl Marx are treated was very persuasive.

I particularly enjoyed his dive into Western music, art, and the concept of cultural appropriation. His conclusions are compelling.
Profile Image for Emily.
258 reviews39 followers
July 10, 2022
This is the third book I read by Douglas Murray and it's definitely my favorite of the three. The War on the West , while not a perfect book, does a good job of exposing most of the disturbing trends I see in my generation and in America (and Europe) in general.

There has been a visible and growing anti-Western sentiment among people in the West. And while Murray, in my opinion, over-glorifies the West slightly too much in his book, he raises a ton of very good points about why the growing trend of anti-Westernism is disturbing. Here are some of the memorable points raised by this book:

- many people and institutions in Western countries are eager to talk about how oppressive and bad their countries are, even while they are some of the most prosperous countries in the world. There are so many Americans, for example, who hate the country and act as if it is some sort of horrible "fascist" and irredeemably racist country which they want to move away from as soon as possible, even while there are thousands of people around the world who would love to move here. America is the most popular destination for immigrants, still. Why? Is it because we are a horrible racist and fascist country? I don't know.

There is a ton of hatred for America that comes from Americans themselves, who seem to have no historical literacy or understanding of the situation in so many other places around the world. America has got plenty of problems, but all in all we're a pretty great country.

The other point Murray raises is that while Westerners express plenty of ire at their own countries, they have much less criticism to offer towards other countries which are much worse, such as China which, right now, as we speak, has literal fcking CONCENTRATION CAMPS. I've even seen people claim it's xenophobic to criticize China.

- likewise, while many academics are content to erase historical figures from periods like the Enlightenment for their racist attitudes, don't have any issue glorifying Marx despite HIS extreme racism, indicating that there is another double standard where only thinkers who formed the basis for the modern Western world are erased while others, while having committed the same sins, are excused presumably for their anti-Western/anti-capitalist viewpoints.

- in many of these Western countries as well, the only *socially acceptable* form of racism is racism against white people, which, incidentally, people at the same time try to claim does not exist. However, if you are using the normal definition of racism, which is prejudice against others based on their race, it very much *does.* Were white people historically discriminated against in the U.S./Europe? Of course not. Are white people the majority group which has had disproportionate power in the history of these places? Yes, of course. But that does not mean that it's okay to be racist towards white people.

Two weeks ago I drew the ire of a book twitter mob and many of them resorted to disparaging me by calling me "white bitch" and "cracker" (which is a racial slur, yes, by the way, and got Twitter to lock their accounts for hate speech) yet when I pointed out that they were using my race as an insult they claimed that "you can't be racist against white people, dumbass".... while being racist towards me.

There is also a rising trend of being able to generalize white people or make negative remarks about white people which could not be permitted against any other group-- and for good reason, because it's racist. When you bring up stuff like this, though, you're accused of playing the victim or pretending that white people are systemically oppressed, which is of course not true. But you're simply pointing out a divisive double standard.

The same thing also applies to Christianity, which people are allowed to freely make fun of, while it is not socially acceptable to make fun of other religions. This is likewise framed as "punching up instead of punching down" because Christians and white people have most institutional power as the respective majority religious and racial groups. Still, though, do we really want to encourage prejudicial remarks towards anyone, regardless of their status as a majority?

- there is a huge problem of historical illiteracy among young people in the West

- the story about people trying to prove that 2 + 2 = 5 because 2 + 2 = 4 is white supremacy was so insane I had to look it up to verify it wasn't made up. Nope it was real. That's just straight out of 1984 . "HOW MANY FINGERS AM I HOLDING UP, WINSTON!"

- the whole cultural-appropriation vs. cultural-appreciation thing is kind of sad and counter-productive

Anyway, disturbing book that you should read if you want different ideas about how the West should acknowledge our historical sins without losing perspective.
Profile Image for Dennis.
363 reviews38 followers
August 1, 2022
I really wish this were required reading rather than much of the race-baiting fodder that gets feted by educators and book clubs across the land. Douglas Murray resoundingly eviscerates the woke racism agenda that currently runs amok, largely unchecked. To wit the riots that broke out in 2020 based on so-called "systemic racism" allegedly underpinning the wrongful and tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, even though to this date, including multiple trials, there has been no evidence that Derek Chauvin's actions were motivated in any way by race. Murray points out the no-win formula of current popular personality Robin DiAngelo who insists you are a racist if you deny it, but also a racist if you do.

Douglas Murray is one of my favorite writers of our time. In this book he demonstrates how a self-flagellating guilty conscience has overtaken the West as intellectuals and others who trust blindly in them have taken to a grand witch hunt to root out anyone who has had anything remotely akin to an unseemly past. Cecil Rhodes is cancelled because of links to companies involved in the slave trade hundreds of years ago. Rex Whistler, artist of famed murals in London's Tate Museum, is cancelled because of a couple of inches-high figures in a vast series of paintings that depict scenes that are out of fashion with today's enlightened iconoclasts. Even Winston Churchill is cancelled because of statements he made in the 1930s and 40s that don't comport with today's woke standards.

Murray has a wickedly humorous way of exposing the absurdity, for example, of Whole Foods in Seattle declaring "racism has no place here" via a vast banner hanging at the front of the remaining storefront. "As though the fruit and nuts aisle of the Whole Foods in Seattle had been a known gathering place for the Klan." He demonstrates thoroughly that anti-racism has supplanted organized religions and taken on the form of religions complete with liturgy, penance, vows of faithfulness, and so on. He demonstrates the hypocrisy of witch hunters who have cancelled the likes of David Hume and Immanuel Kant while Karl Marx gets a pass (not even a look, really) for his much more egregious antisemitism.

The book ends with a resounding defense of the West, and an explanation that people of all stripes throughout the world vote with their feet. There is good reason that the United States of America, not Uganda, or Zimbabwe, Myanmar, is the preferred destination of migrants worldwide. The list is endless of contributions the West has made to the world, often by looking outwardly with curiosity to incorporate the good from cultures into innovations that have improved the lives of billions, lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty in the 21st Century alone.

The West, though not perfect, should not be ashamed of itself, and fall over itself in self-loathing when the endless faults and flaws of other cultures remain unexamined. We would do well to cultivate gratitude for the achievements we have been gifted while we continue to seek improvements for humanity from all walks of life.
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